Wearable skin monitor detects changes in temperature of skin and conditions

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A health monitor that can track skin and heart conditions and which can be worn discretely on the skin has been developed by Northwestern University and the University of Illinois researchers at Urbana-Champaign. The wearable skin monitor measures 5cm squared, with it having being designed to be as discrete as possible and it will alert the user to a variety of conditions, which can range from cardiovascular issues to dry skin.


[Image Source: Northwestern University]

The patch is skin-like and the designers made it with comfort in mind so that it could be worn all the time. The patch is made up of 3,600 liquid crystals, with each of them being a square measuring 0.5mm, bonded together by a stretchable substrate. When the patch is worn, the crystals act as temperature points that will check and monitor the changes in temperature on the surface of the skin.


[Image Source: Northwestern University]

The device is then able to track any temperature changes along with being able to identify the blood flow rate of the wearer, which keeps a check of the cardiovascular health and at the same time monitors the hydration in the skin. If a change is detected in the temperature of the person then the patch will then change its colour and this will alert the wearer that something is wrong. The temperature data is then converted into health information that can be deciphered vi an algorithm. This will take just 30 seconds.

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[Image Source: Northwestern University]

"One can imagine cosmetics companies being interested in the ability to measure skin’s dryness in a portable and non-intrusive way,” said Yonggang Huang, one of the senior researchers. "This is the first device of its kind.”

The devices wireless heating system is powered by electromagnetic waves and this gauges the skins thermal properties. The researchers said that as the device has 3,600 temperature points, the spatial resolution can be compared to infrared technology, however the device is portable and it comes with a lower price tag.

These results provide the first examples of ‘epidermal’ photonic sensors,” said John A. Rogers, the paper’s corresponding author and professor of materials science and engineering at the University of Illinois. “This technology significantly expands the range of functionality in skin-mounted devices beyond that possible with electronics alone.

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